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T cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hildalgo, Ester (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Identification of the role of T cells and their interaction with other cell types remains a major challenge to our understanding of the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. In this study we have investigated the regulation of the response of T cells infiltrating the rheumatoid joint to IL-6. Furthermore we have investigated the level of T cell activation in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis. Interleukin-6 is an important regulator of T cell differentiation and survival. It exerts its biological function by either directly binding to the complete IL-6 receptor consisting of CD126 CD130 or via transsignaling, when sIL6R-IL6 complexes bind to CD130. This study addresses the expression and regulation of these receptor components on the T cells infiltrating the rheumatoid joint. While compared to blood T cells, CD126 expression was found at low levels on synovial fluid and tissue T cells, expression of CD130 on synovial tissue T cells was comparable to that of blood T cells, with lower levels in synovial fluid T cells, both at protein and mRNA level. When exposed to sIL6R-IL6 complexes, tissue derived T cells responded with a higher level of STAT3 phosphorylation compared to cells incubated with IL-6, suggestive of transsignaling. High CD130 expression was demonstrable in T cells in the perivascular cuff area. Among a range of cytokines tested, IL-6 reduced CD126 and CD130 expression while IL-10, which is expressed at high levels in the perivascular infiltrate, induced expression of CD130. Taken together these data suggest that the inflammatory microenvironment maintains responsiveness to IL-6 transsignalling by cytokine driven CD130 expression on CD4 positive T cells. To address the question whether the role of T cells changes during the course of progression of RA, we analysed the expression of T cells activation markers on synovial fluid and peripheral blood T cells from patients at the very early stage of disease (within 3 months of disease onset) compared to patients with established or self resolving arthritis. Expression of CD69, CD71 and HLA-DR was upregulated on synovial fluid T cells compared to peripheral blood but there were no differences between the different groups of patients. Furthermore, we quantified the proportion of T cells expressing the invariant TCR Vα24Jα18 in synovial fluid and blood of the same groups of patients. We found a lower frequency of iNKT cells in the synovial fluid of very early arthritis patients compared to other patients. While this is a preliminary result, it suggests that there may be a role for these cells in the regulation of disease susceptibility.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Scheel-Toellner, Dagmar and Raza, Karim
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Medical & Dental Sciences
Department:Institute of Biomedical Research
Subjects:RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1715
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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